October 15–November 14
B. Quinn: The Haircut
A.I.R. Gallery is pleased to announce The Haircut, an exhibition by B. Quinn. The Haircut presents an 18-hour single-channel video installation of the same name, an obsessive investigation of the haircut as a cinematic story-telling trope that gives or takes away power from the women it transforms on screen. The Haircut is Quinn’s first solo exhibition in New York.
To produce this video-based work, Quinn spent two years researching and gathering source material in the form of hundreds of clips of women receiving haircuts or cutting their own hair, sampled from close to 600 films. Across The Haircut’s 18-hour duration, Quinn has organized these fragmented representations of women according to their diegetic time. The resulting work connects disparate characters across time periods, countries, cultures, language, and most importantly, each woman’s individual circumstances.
The Haircut includes numerous examples of self-haircuts and makeovers. In these scenes, the typical stereotypes associated with the haircut as a gestural narrative device communicate to the viewer that a woman is acting out during a moment of mental duress, hiding their identity, or conforming to or rebelling against societal standards. However, alongside scenes such as these—think Audrey Hepburn getting a bob haircut in Roman Holiday—there are frequent instances in which the haircut takes place as part of violence against women. These examples range from concentration camp head-shavings and schoolgirls ganging up on a classmate to unsettling depictions that take place as part of kidnapping, public humiliation, or sexual assault.
In The Haircut, Quinn centers the gesture of the haircut to consider its repetition within the traumatic realism of popular culture. The gesture’s function and recurrence show the haircut, when enacted on a woman’s body and psyche, can range from a form of healing to an act and location of trauma.
The Haircut has been supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council Agency.